Dufour’s Aero 2 Breaks Barriers in Drone Technology

Dufour Aerospace, the Swiss-based eVTOL aircraft developer, has revealed the final design for its Aero 2 cargo drone. This unveiling came after the successful maiden flight of its third prototype, dubbed the X2.2, at the Dübendorf airfield near Zurich in Switzerland.

The Aero series development started in 2015, beginning with an electric aerobatic model known as the Aero 1. The Aero 2, designed to be the first product on the market, will be a hybrid-electric, unmanned cargo transporter with a weight-carrying capacity of 40 kilograms (88 pounds). It promises a range of 400 kilometers (216 nm) and a cruise speed of 92 knots.

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Dufour's ambitious plans don't stop at Aero 2. The planned Aero 3 model, the company's flagship, is designed to carry up to 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds) of payload, or eight passengers plus a pilot. The Aero 3 will also feature a hybrid-electric powertrain and a tilt-wing design like the Aero 2.

Explaining the unique tilt-wing design, Dufour's Chief Commercial Officer Sascha Hardegger said, “During hover, when the wing is tilted all the way into a vertical position, the lift produced by the propellers creates a slipstream over the wing, so this wing already wants to fly while the aircraft is still on the ground.” Hardegger believes the tilt-wing design has advantages over the tilt-rotor approach in terms of complexity and aerodynamic efficiency.

Dufour'S Aero 2 Breaks Barriers In Drone Technology

The Aero 2's design recently passed its preliminary design , and the team is now preparing for the critical design review. They will adjust the design based on data from tests conducted with the latest prototype, X2.2. The prototype has a larger fuselage and wingspan compared to the previous X2.1 and boasts upgraded hardware and software control systems.

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Dufour has already started ordering materials for the next prototype, the X2.3. This model is expected to commence flight testing in 2024, with plans for serial production of the Aero 2 set for 2025. Certification in , followed by validation for the U.S. market, is also projected to be completed by 2024.

In a significant partnership, Spright, a major U.S. drone division of Air Methods, is set to be the launch customer for the Aero 2. According to Dufour, Spright has committed to buying 40 units with an option for an additional 100 units, which represents the largest purchase of UAVs in U.S. history.

Dufour's initial Aero 2 production model will feature helicopter-style skids and will reportedly have vertical take-off and landing capabilities. Hardegger explains this decision was based on simplicity, as the main customer, Spright, will be using the Aero 2 specifically for vertical operations. However, wheels for landing gear are on Dufour's future development plans.

Dufour'S Aero 2 Breaks Barriers In Drone Technology

In conclusion, Dufour Aerospace is making impressive strides in the aircraft market. With the reveal of the Aero 2 design and a host of commitments from key players, the Swiss developer is poised to impact the unmanned cargo drone space significantly.

“Everything we invest into Aero 2 also benefits the development and future development of Aero 3,” said Hardegger.

As the company plans the path forward, there's no doubt that their innovative Aero series will be a game-changer in the industry.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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